Cassville district responds to major education initiative

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Four goals strive to improve student success

The State of Missouri is hoping to raise the bar on education and make a push for improved education outcomes with the Top 10 by 20 initiative.

The Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) launched the major improvement initiative that aims for student achievement in Missouri to rank among the top 10 states by the year 2020.

Cassville school district Superintendent Richard Asbill said is familiar with the initiative and focused on how best to implement the its goals at Cassville schools.

"It's already in effect and in about it's third year," Asbill said. "It's also tied to the No Child Left Behind initiative."

The Top 10 by 20 initiative has major four goals, the first of which is for all Missouri students to graduate college and be career-ready.

"The program is for Missouri and local school districts to set goals and look at district improvement efforts focused on where we need to be by the year 2020," Asbill said. "Setting those goals is import for any school district regardless of size, but the goals need to be representative of the communities we live in.

"Some of the broad goals are very important, but we need to define how Cassville will meet those needs based on our community needs and socioeconomic needs, and look at providing those opportunities to put students in a place to be more successful."

Asbill said it is also about improving education to gear students toward career and college opportunities for jobs that may not currently exist.

"So, its important to look forward while also taking look at what we're doing now," he said.

Asbill said since not every student attends college after graduation, the district's goal is to prepare students for college and career.

"College can't be defined as a four-year institution," he said. "We have to understand that it is postsecondary or advanced education, but what we need to talk about is further education and careers. So, if a student wants to go to Crowder College or a technical school, those are important career steps. The goal is for them to be college and career ready. Is college for everybody? No. But, learning is for everybody, so we're looking at extending learning for everyone."

Asbill said he was not interested in going to college.

"It wasn't for me," he said. "My heart was set on farming. My mom drug me off a tractor and got me registered for Crowder. It was the best thing to start me off. It's not about every student [having the same goal to attend college]. It's about each student."

"We have to be focused on the fact that college is not for everyone and each student needs their own opportunity and how can we define that," he said. "And, some of us won't know what that is until we're 19 or 25. But, if we have an appetite for learning and a pathway to better career options, then we'll be OK. We need to be looking at the individual students."

Goal No. 2 is for all Missouri children to enter kindergarten prepared to be successful in school.

"This goal is about preparing students from birth to five years and trying to expand preschool opportunities," Asbill said. "I think it is a very important part of any community, and how to transition their children into school more successfully. You give them a head start, and it pays off."

Goal No. 3 is Missouri will prepare, develop and support effective educators.

"Here, we are talking about developing a professional learning system that will provide additional learning opportunities for teachers to advance," Asbill said. "It also involves developing a system that's reflective of student growth, and it's important we look at what can our school district do better and how do we define our roles as administrators, as teachers, as food service workers and so on. Everyone has to be responsible and a stakeholder to make Cassville R-4 district better."

Goal No. 4 is to improve departmental efficiency and operational effectiveness.

"That's specifically tied to DESE in defining their role in how to help us achieve our district level and regional goals in regard to state improvement," Asbill said.

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